Archive for June 10th, 2005

I Could Get Better Frames At Lenscrafters

This is another post that probably isn’t really news, but which distills bits and pieces of thoughts I’ve had and expressed elsewhere.

We are all well aware that the Republicans are frighteningly, appallingly, shamelessly good at framing, and Frankly, there’s not a whole lot Democrats can do to diminish their talent for it. However, that doesn’t mean they should leave them with a clear field to trot out whatever deceitful spin they like. Democrats need to get a lot better at their own framing, and they need to get a lot better at countering the Republicans’ framing.

What bugs me the most is the Democratic/liberal stereotype that the Republicans have successfully installed in the public psyche. Not only is it inaccurate, but it is in fact a more accurate description of the Republicans themselves. What I would love to see is Democrats begin describing Republican politicians and their masters as morally relativist, soft-on-terror, America-hating elitists who think they know what’s best for everyone else.

I’d like to go through that point-by-point to clarify it a bit further:

Morally relativist: While I grant that Democrats have had their share of scandals, they have nothing that compares to the sheer quantity of scandals and dodginess on display in the Republican party. Just off the top of my head, we’ve got Coingate, Plamegate, DeLay’s myriad ethics violations (and a bunch of others who have had shady dealings with Abramoff), a gay prostitute gaining privileged access to the White House and its press corps despite no legitimate journalistic credentials, more sexually creepy behavior than you can shake a stick at, and, oh yeah, lying us into a neverending, immoral war in which torture and murder are a-okay.

Soft-on-terror: Bush and the Republican Congress have been dragging their feet on securing Russian nukes, port and nuclear plant security, playing regional pork politics with local-level homeland security funding, and putting corporate interests ahead of chemical plant security.

President Bush also demonstrated a lack of commitment and a short attention span when he had an opportunity to beef up security and anti-terror activities prior to 9/11, and in his efforts to capture or kill Osama bin Laden in the aftermath. And as a special bonus, the invasion and botched occupation of Iraq is not only a magnificent terrorist recruiting tool, but an ineffectual or puppet “democratic” government there would almost certainly undermine the credibility of democracy in the Middle East as a whole.

America-hating: Republicans have shown themselves to be implacable enemies of the Constitution, especially the checks and balances between the branches; due process; free, open, and fair elections; and the First Amendment’s protection of free speech (i.e., dissent, unfavorable media coverage) and prohibitions against mixing religion and government. Their rabid anti-environmentalism also makes them enemies of America’s very physical being – they would be perfectly happy to see the purple mountains’ majesty turned into strip-mines.

Elitists: The Republicans are the party of the rich, the aristocratic, and the corporate, and their policies (corporate welfare, including bankruptcy and tort reform, tax cuts grossly weighted towards capital and upper income brackets) are dedicated to making the rich even richer, at the poor’s expense. Yes, there are wealthy and intellectual Democrats, but enriching their peers is generally not one of their policy goals. Sadly, there are exceptions (I’m looking at you, Joe Biden), but they are not exactly held up as exemplars of the Democratic ideal.

Think they know what’s best for everyone else: This is the one that has always blown my mind the most, and I’ve never been entirely sure what it referred to. Yes, there is some degree of political correctness, and it can be aggravating at times, but the Democratic legislative priorities have always been focused on providing aid and opportunity. The Republicans are the party of limiting choices because they know best, making only token, trojan-horse efforts to improve education, while fighting to defend anti-sodomy laws, outlaw abortion and stem-cell research, censor anything remotely racy in TV or movies, and generally impose hard-right, allegedly Christian moral values on the entire nation.

Howard Dean took some steps towards addressing some of this in his comments about Republicans being a white Christian party and not working an honest day in their lives (elitism), which predictably resulted in howls of outrage from Republicans and even some of the tamer Democrats. Here’s hoping he keeps the pressure on and refuses to bow to intimidation – with the caveat that he does need to do a better job of clarifying when he is talking about the Republican leadership, including government officials and influential non-governmental individuals like Dobson and Norquist.

Tune in next week for: “The Republican leadership cannot be reasoned with; they are sexist, intolerant religious fanatics who hate America for its freedoms, and will not rest until it is destroyed.”

8 comments June 10th, 2005 at 10:35pm Posted by Eli

Entry Filed under: Bush,Constitution,Corruption/Cronyism,Democrats,Favorites,Politics,Republicans,Terrorism

Friday Quote & Cat Blogging

This week’s quote:

They switch you off when life is good, and switch you back on when they’re up to their noses in life’s bitter droppings.

From a supercheesy Grade Z sci-fi movie called Forbidden World, whose only claim to fame that I can recall is that the cast featured June Chadwick (the girlfriend from Hell in This Is Spinal Tap), and Fox Harris (the crazy Malibu driver in Repo Man). The character speaking is some kind of troubleshooter who has been sent to stop the rampaging creature that’s killing everybody, and which he calls a “dingwopper” a few times.

UPDATE: I just remembered – I don’t think the quote is the troubleshooter waxing metaphorical; I think there was actually a cranky robot in this movie, so the quote is meant literally. Well, except for the noses and the bitter droppings.

No cats in the movie, so I provide one here:

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Eek in a basket!

4 comments June 10th, 2005 at 08:12pm Posted by Eli

Entry Filed under: Friday Quote & Cat Blogging

Bolo’s World

This is just silly:

Thomas Benya wore a braided bolo tie under his purple graduation gown this week as a subtle tribute to his Native American heritage.

Administrators at his Charles County school decided the string tie was too skinny. They denied him his diploma, at least temporarily, as punishment.

(snip)

The courts have ruled that students have limited rights to express themselves at school as long as their behavior is not disruptive…. David Rocah, a staff lawyer with the American Civil Liberties Union of Maryland, said there are limits to those rights. Carrying political placards or wearing a clown suit to graduation would presumably be disruptive. The question, he said, is whether a bolo tie under a gown is disruptive.

“There’s nothing wrong with wanting graduation to be a formal occasion,” he said, “but the idea that everyone should look the same — they’re not all the same.”

Rocah called the school’s interpretation a “narrow and cramped view of personal autonomy.”

Jeez, lighten up! It’s just a tie! Give the poor kid his diploma already! Yes, I’m sure the school doesn’t want to set some kind of Dangerous Precedent, but come on. A bolo tie may be unconventional, but there’s nothing inherently distracting about it. Yes, there are lurid bolo ties (mine are, Benya’s is not), but the same is true of “regular” ties, and the school has no restrictions on those.

Graduation Day is supposed to be about the students, not the school or, God forbid, its administrators. So stop digging in your heels to defend the letter of the law, and do the right thing. Kids only get one high school graduation, and it should be an occasion of joy and pride, not an occasion for struggling against bureaucracy. There’ll be plenty of time for that later on, I promise.

UPDATE: I think this may be a little outside my usual “beat”, but the thing is, in high school and college I was the guy who dressed like a nut. No intent to be disruptive, really – the bizarre 70s clothes just tickled my fancy, and I enjoyed dressing that way as an expression of my eccentricity. So maybe that makes me a little hypersensitive to heavyhanded attempts to stifle sartorial self-expression.

June 10th, 2005 at 04:50pm Posted by Eli

Entry Filed under: Uncategorized

He Blinded Us From Science!

Reading some letters to the editor about Philip Cooney’s selective editing of government global-warming reports, I can’t help but wonder if there’s a memo buried out there somewhere that talks about how “the science and facts are being fixed around the policy”…

June 10th, 2005 at 10:57am Posted by Eli

Entry Filed under: Environment,Politics,Republicans,Science,Wankers

Friday Church Door Blogging

I’m trying to get back to photoblogging a little more – I’ve been taking pictures, but I’ve gotten a little lax on posting them, partly because BloggerBot has gotten so thoroughly unreliable. It also looks like the scaling-down of the images has gotten a lot less smooth, but you can always click on them to see them full-size (and smoother).

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Church door closed…

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Church door open.

3 comments June 10th, 2005 at 07:22am Posted by Eli

Entry Filed under: Photoblogging,Pittsburgh


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